What is one of the biggest risks when it comes to a disaster?

Dr. Craig Galbraith: Experiencing a disaster can be stressful and cause panic, making it difficult to properly care for all family members. Even during the best of times it can be challenging to remember the specifics of your pets’ medical needs and necessary care supplies, so lack of preparation may put pet owners in a compromising position during a time of distress. To avoid missteps, it’s best to outline a disaster plan well in advance. 

Alex Haro: The biggest risk for families is losing access to necessary, everyday things like utilities, water or communication channels. That’s why it’s critical to have a plan in place for how to react to a disaster before one strikes.

Tom Beckett: The biggest dangers for people in the first 48 hours of a major disaster are: a lack of effective communication and situational awareness, a lack of food and shelter and a lack of visibility, which can stop people from moving about a changed landscape or successfully signaling for help.

Why is it important for families and businesses to have a disaster plan?

CG: Having a disaster plan ensures that all things necessary for your pets’ health and safety will be available to you at a moment’s notice, allowing a family to focus on their own immediate needs for care and well-being.

AH: When you feel prepared, you take a lot of the anxiety and fear out of an already high-stress situation. During an unexpected disaster, having a sense of control becomes super important.

TB: You cannot wait until you know you are going to crash your car to start putting your seat belt on. Disasters and emergencies, by definition, are unexpected. Having a plan in place, reviewing it annually with family members or fellow staff members at your workplace and assigning specific tasks for each participant is crucial to minimizing risk during a disaster or weather-related emergency.

What are your top three tips for disaster preparedness?

CG:  1. Microchip

Ensure that all pets are implanted with an RFID microchip, a permanent form of identification. Register their microchip with 24 PetWatch and keep your contact information up-to-date so you can be reunited with your pet’s finder.

2. Assemble a kit

Assemble an evacuation kit for all pets, including a supply of food and water, cage or carrier, copies of veterinary medical records, medications (with instructions), first aid kit, list of emergency contacts and familiar items your pet can use for comfort.

3. Talk with a neighbor

Develop and practice a disaster plan with written instructions for a neighbor to care for your pets in case a disaster strikes when you are not home or are unable to return to your home.

AH: 1. Have a plan

The first thing you should do is sit down with your family and make a plan. Yes, it’s a scary thing to talk about, but having a plan ensures that you can help yourself and others.

2. Utilize tech

Prepare yourself with the right tools. In addition to a getting an emergency kit, you can also look to tech for help. Download a comprehensive app before disaster strikes, like the Life360 app. The app not only gives you the location of your loved ones, but you can also see other vital stats, like the status of their battery life. Through the app, you can also contact emergency services and get help with things like roadside assistance.

3. Sign up for alerts

Many cities now have text-based notification systems that will provide you with city updates during and after a disaster. They will even text you if there is a major traffic disruption.

TB: 1. Tune in

Have a portable radio to get updates from local authorities and first responders.

2. Stock up

Have at least a three-day supply of food and water on hand as well as something to protect the body from the elements.

3. Prep for darkness

Always have at least two portable lighting devices with spare batteries on hand.